Five Native French Horse Breeds

The Camargue horse is a native French breed that roams freely throughout the wild Camargue marshes. A large breed, up to 16.5 hands in height and capable of reaching bay, red roan or chestnut colors; used for cattle work, long distance riding and leisurely recreation.

These horses excel at showjumping and eventing competition, but are also used for dressage and range work.


Boulonnais horses are known for being heavy yet elegant breeds, lighter than Shires but heavier than many breeds like Shires. Boulonnaiss were initially developed during the Industrial Revolution to meet this need; their breeding increased as demand increased due to being used both for riding and light draft work. There used to be various different kinds of Boulonnais; from transporting fish cartloads from Boulogne to Paris in carts all the way through heavier work on farms – including smaller Boulonnais types used as fish carriers from Boulogne to Paris using cartloads – while larger types were used more for heavier work on farms than transport cartloads of fish cartloads using cartload carriers (originally used by fishermen who used Boulonnais), with smaller types being used for transport cartloads of fish cartloads of course).

Boulonnais horses remain an integral part of French working horse population today. Boulonnais are not susceptible to the common health issues seen among other draft horses and typically live for 30 years or more. As warm-blooded creatures, Boulonnais can thrive both in hot climates as well as cold environments and love exercise!


The Camargue horse breed is an exceptionally hardy native French breed that has been influenced by the climate in its region of origin, the French Riviera. Thought to have originated from Solutre quaternary horses, they have thrived in life in southern France’s marshes where they have developed an unparalleled resilience. Known for being tough and long-lived.

Camargue horses are semi-wild horses living in small herds in France’s Camargue region. These semi-wild horses provide much of their own grooming, can survive periods without food and extreme temperature swings, and possess wide hooves which are evolutionary adaptations for life in muddy terrains.

Camargue horses typically begin life black or brown and turn grey as they age into adulthood. Their heads feature heavy, square structures with possible Barb and Arabian bloodlines in their bloodlineage.


The Auxois horse breed originated in eastern France. Known for its strength and endurance, this large horse species makes an excellent choice for heavy draft work or recreational riding pursuits.

Auxois horses possess a peaceful, friendly temperament and make excellent therapy companions. Riders of all levels find them an ideal match; typically bay or roan colored (but chestnut shades may exist too), the Auxois stands between 15.2-16 hands in height.

In the 1970s, Auxois almost went extinct as the French government began pushing draft breeds primarily for meat production instead of agriculture use. Due to this development, its numbers quickly declined but by the 1990s, they had been revived and now count as one of France’s rarest native draft breeds.


Merens Ponies hail from France’s Pyrenees Mountains. This surefooted breed makes an excellent trekking pony for children while trail riding is also quite popular with this versatile species.

Ponies are known for their short necks, sloping shoulders, and strong backs – traits which make them excellent companions who can endure cold climate conditions without suffering as much from it.

Once used as draft work horses in mountain villages across Europe, Merens were once widely employed for mountain farmers to move heavy loads over steep terrain. By the 1970s however, mechanization had drastically reduced their population; only being saved by hippies moving into Ariege Mountains to boost local economies and restart breeding programs; eventually becoming rare breeds. Today the Merens remains rare.


Nivernais horses hail from France’s Nievre region. With strong build and 16 to 17 hands in height, these hardy horses possess both intelligence and hardiness – their numbers have decreased due to mechanization and war but efforts are currently underway to save it from extinction.

The Breton Postier is a light draught horse used for agricultural work and improving less developed stock. Generally found in bay or chestnut colors, although black and seal brown examples exist. An active and athletic breed often used for leisure pursuits such as racing and show jumping competitions as well as meat production – the breed features solid build quality with powerful animals making up its population.


The Landais is an exceptionally rare French breed of small horse or pony. Originating in the marshy plains and woodlands of Nouvelle Aquitaine’s Landes departement, but often reared in Pyrenees-Atlantiques department; particularly Pau arrondissement – with some influence from Arab and Welsh Section B stallions it can be used both riding and driving as well as trotting effectively.

Landais ponies typically feature bay or chestnut hues; gray versions exist as well. With long muscular necks and short backs, they stand between 16-17.3 hands. Landais breeds are well known for their quick trotting speed. A genetic study conducted on French horses population suggests conservation efforts should focus on five local breeds to preserve maximum genetic diversity.


Poitevin horses are French draft horses originating in the former province of Poitou in western France, developed during the 17th century as Flemish or Dutch horses brought by engineers working on land drainage interbred with native horses from this area.

Mules are well known for their endurance, strength, and calm temperament – qualities which make them suitable for leisure riding and agricultural work, such as planting vineyards. Furthermore, these versatile mules make excellent companions when used as mules in forests or vineyards.

Recent microsatellite marker research sampled 1679 animals across 19 breeds, and found that within-breed diversity (CW) and between-breed genetic variation (GDWS) explained approximately 10 percent of total variance. Based on these results, particular efforts should be made to conserve five local French breeds.

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